Bangladesh powering ahead with solar

Bangladesh is making great strides with off-grid solar power.

The Bright Green Energy Foundation (BGEF) has installed 145,000 solar home systems to date, and plans to have solar on 6 million homes in the country by 2017.


Copyright: G.M.B. Akash / Panos
Source: SciDev.Net

BGEF also focuses on employing women from rural areas as technicians and managers. Since rural people and women are two groups more affected by the impacts of climate change, this is a great added benefit to the company’s plans.

Read more about this initiative in the article here.

The move to a low-carbon economy is important here in BC as well. ACT has done work on how and why a transition to renewable energy is necessary. You can learn more about this work here. 


The world’s most famous climate scientist just outlined an alarming scenario for our planet’s future

A handout photograph provided by NASA shows glaciers and mountains in the evening sun during an Operation IceBridge research flight, returning from West Antarctica, 29 October 2014. EPA/MICHAEL STUDINGER / HANDOUT

A handout photograph provided by NASA shows glaciers and mountains in the evening sun during an Operation IceBridge research flight, returning from West Antarctica, 29 October 2014. EPA/MICHAEL STUDINGER / HANDOUT

In the new study, Hansen and his colleagues suggest that the “doubling time” for ice loss from West Antarctica — the time period over which the amount of loss could double — could be as short as 10 years. In other words, a non-linear process could be at work, triggering major sea level rise in a time frame of 50 to 200 years. By contrast, Hansen and colleagues note, the IPCC assumed more of a linear process, suggesting only around 1 meter of sea level rise, at most, by 2100.

Continue reading here.


Beginning in Fall 2011, ACT partnered with the University of Western Ontario-led Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR): Building Adaptive Capacity for Managing Climate Change in Coastal Megacities program as the coordinator for research in Vancouver, the major Canadian city featured in the program. CCaR is led by former ACT policy author Dr. Gordon McBean (Climate Change Adaptation and Extreme Weather), and partnering with universities in Lagos, Bangkok and Manila.

The objective of the program is to develop the knowledge base and enhance the capacity of megacities to successfully adapt to and when necessary cope with risks posed by the effects of climate change, including sea level rise, in the context of urban growth and development. The cities were chosen to have a range of climate-weather, socio-cultural-economic characteristics; be representative of other cities; and provide enhanced research opportunities through ongoing efforts.

The outputs will be new, integrated knowledge on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction strategies and their socio-economic-health implications; integrated, interdisciplinary simulation models to develop, test and validate knowledge-based adaptation actions; and increased numbers of highly-qualified people, both academic and practitioners, through knowledge mobilization and translation.






The Climate Crisis Is Starting to Create a Global Consciousness Shift by David Suzuki


Marchers at the People’s Climate March in New York in September 2014. (Photo: Annette Bernhardt/flickr/cc)

For years, environmentalists have called for an urgent response to runaway climate change. Evidence has poured in from around the world to corroborate Hansen’s conclusions, from melting glaciers, sea level rise and ocean acidification to increasing extreme weather events and changes in animal and plant behaviour and ranges.

I’ve been astounded by the lack of response to climate change over the years, but I’ll go out on a limb and suggest a shift is now taking place. Although we may not recognize its significance without the benefit of hindsight, we appear to be in the early stages of something huge.

Continue reading here.


Is the climate crisis creating a global consciousness shift?


Credit: Nattu via Flickr
David Suzuki Foundation

In his latest blog post, David Suzuki wonders if we are entering a new phase in the climate change movement: that of global consciousness. Though scientists and advocates have been warning us for decades, only lately have many world leaders been taking the issue seriously. Are we experiencing a shift towards global awareness- and will that translate into global action?

There are so many effects of climate change that we are already seeing and that need urgent action. Loss of biodiversity, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather are just a few implications. We sure hope the world is ready to take global action!

Check out the article here. 


Farming More Important Than Oil for Canadian Economy

Jeff Rubin

Photograph by: Kathryn Hollinrake
Source: The Vancouver Sun

Interview from The Vancouver Sun with economist and author Jeff Rubin.

In this interview, Rubin explains how the very climate change that will leave much of the country’s carbon unburnable could, at the same time, make some of Canada’s other resource assets more valuable: our water and our land. This is the topic of his new book, “The Carbon Bubble: What Happens to Us When It Bursts”.

Click here to read the article. 

ACT’s 2013 report on Climate Change Adaptation and Canada’s Crops & Food Supply outlines ways all levels of government can respond to this challenge and make the most of the emerging opportunities. Read this report here. 


Paying for Urban Infrastructure Adaptation in Canada: An Analysis of Existing and Potential Economic Instruments for Local Governments


Local governments in Canada are on the front lines of climate change impacts, but the cost of adapting infrastructure to flooding and other climate-driven challenges is a barrier to implementation. This report, developed by ACT through a project supported by Natural Resources Canada under the program of the Economics Working Group of Canada’s Adaptation Platformthe Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, and the Real Estate Foundation of BC, identifies and analyzes the applications and suitability of funding sources available to Canadian local governments that can be used to pay for urban climate change adaptation, as well as innovative measures that may be implemented in the future under certain conditions.

The national Canadian Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice (CCACoP) presented a webinar on ACT’s report on April 8th, 2015 called Adaptation Financing for Local Governments in Canada with presentations by ACT ED Deborah Harford, senior economist and report supervisor Benoit Laplante, and report co-authors and ACT researchers Lisa Danielson and Julia Berry, with comments from ICLEI Canada manager Ewa Jackson. A recording of this webinar is available at this link. If you are a member of the CCACoP, you can find the recording and PowerPoint slides saved on the webinar page.

Interactive PDF EPUB for iBooks Kindle
Download and view on all computers and mobile devices. Report is hyperlinked throughout This is a Fixed Layout EPUB which is optimized for viewing in iBooks, and latest generation Kobos This is a Fixed Layout Kindle book which is optimized for viewing in the latest Kindle devices
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For specific information on funding for updating floodplain maps, please see the guide created by the BC Real Estate Association here:


SFU ViPS Public Lecture: Adam Sobel (Columbia University) “Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: Predictions and Responses”

SFU’s Institute for Values in Policy and Science (ViPS) and Urban Studies invites you to a public lecture and discussion addressing issues related to policy and the science of climate change: Dr. Adam Sobel (Columbia University), “Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: Predictions and Responses.” Sobel’s recent book, Storm Surge: Hurricane Sandy, Our Changing Climate and Extreme Weather of the Past and Future raises questions of how cities like New York ought to prepare for the extreme weather that current scientific models predict. Please circulate this invitation widely to interested researchers and associates.

When: Monday, March 16, 2015 @ 6:30pm

Where: SFU Harbour Centre, Segal Centre, Roomes 1400-1410

Please Note:  The event is free to the public but please register to help us to anticipate attendance.

Forecasts of Superstorm Sandy’s landfall on the northeastern US coast in the days before enabled many life-saving preparations. How can science-based warnings about disasters to come in the less immediate future, like the coastal flooding predicted by human-induced climate change, spur investment in infrastructure before disaster strikes?

Adam Sobel is Professor of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and of Earth and Environmental Science at Columbia University.

Fostering conversations about the social and environmental impact of recent developments in science.






New! Sea Level Rise and Extreme Precipitation Webinars

The Fraser Basin Council is pleased to offer two free educational and informative sessions to prepare you for the upcoming impacts of climate change in BC. These webinars provide training and learning opportunities for climate change adaptation planning in your community. Register today!

New Sea Level Rise Projections in British Columbia

When: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 @ 10:30 am – 11:30 am PST

This webinar will present and discuss new projections on relative sea-level rise in BC based on the latest assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The projections incorporate global sea-level rise from glaciers and ice sheets, warming of the oceans, groundwater extraction, and impoundment of water in reservoirs, and include local factors such as vertical land motion and dynamic oceanographic changes. The projections of relative sea-level rise give a basis for considering future extreme water levels and associated flooding events.
  • Thomas James, Research Scientist, Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada

Register here.

Extreme Precipitation on the West Coast 

When: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 @ 10:30 am – 12:00 pm PST

With the recent flood events in Courtenay, Delta, Surrey, White Rock and other communities this past year, communities in BC are keenly aware of the risks of flooding and damage to infrastructure during extreme precipitation events. This webinar will discuss the results of a study that looked trends in Atmospheric River (aka Pineapple Express) events in BC, as well as potential actions to assist in reducing the damage and harm caused by these events. The study was carried out by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium in partnership with the BC Climate Action Secretariat.

You will also hear about the City of Chilliwack’s experience in managing an extreme precipitation event in 2009 that led to significant flooding and damage to infrastructure in the Greendale area. Although the area was protected by river dikes, a heavy snowfall followed by a high-rainfall event led to flooding and landslides behind the dikes that damaged over 50 homes and washed out roads. Since 2009, Chilliwack has done engineering analysis to look at options to reduce the risk of such an event, and has begun to implement some of the recommendations coming out of that report.

  • Thomas White, Manager, Adaptation, BC Climate Action Secretariat
  • Frank Van Nynatten, Assistant Manager of Environmental Services, City of Chilliwack
Register here.



Scientists now know why global warming has slowed down and it’s not good news for us

It’s been called the “hiatus,” “pause,” or “slowdown” and has been a favored meme of climate skeptics for years.

Despite the continued increase of greenhouse gas emissions from us, rise of global surface temperatures has been easing since 1998.

Two new studies published this week examine the origins of the“pause,” and, surprisingly, suggest that it may persist for years even in our notably warming world.

The first study, published on Feb. 26 in the journal Science, looked into likely causes. “It appears as though internal variability has offset warming over the last 15 or so years,” Byron A. Steinman, lead author of the paper and assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth, told Quartz.

That internal variability is found in the natural cycles of temperature change that occur over years or even decades in the oceans, like El Niñoand La Niña. There are others, like the “Atlantic multidecadal oscillation” and the “Pacific decadal oscillation,” which Steinman said are leading culprits for the warming slowdown.

The paper, which was co-authored by Michael E. Mann and Sonya K. Miller of Pennsylvania State University, found an oceanic tug-of-war between the two systems. Sometimes the ocean cycles worked together to suck heat or burp it skyward—sometimes their push-pull led to a draw.

The second study, published on Feb. 23 in the journal Nature Climate Change, took up the question of how long our warming break might last.

Chris D. Roberts and colleagues at the Met Office Hadley Center in Britain looked at the pause’s possible lifespan. Using a suite of climate models, they estimated that there is good chance, up to 25%, of it continuing until the end of the decade.

More troubling are the odds that the end of the hiatus, whenever it does happen, will be followed by a five-year period of accelerated warming. This could mean that global surface temperatures rise at twice the normal rate of 0.36°F per decade. They put the chances of that warm burst at up to 60%.

The Science study, which looked at how a warming pause is created, took over 150 models and let them age from 1850 to 2012.

This gave the researchers a tally of the random natural ripples inside the climate system (those Atlantic and Pacific temperature variations) and ones outside the system called “forcings” (atmosphere-cooling volcanic eruptions and changes in the sun’s strength over time). They then took the observed ground and ocean surface temperatures for the past 130 years and subtracted the volcanoes and the sun. That gave them a measure of the power of ocean cycles to create the warming pause.

The Nature Climate Change study looked at an “archive of 15,000 years of simulated climate” to see what a nature-made hiatus typically looks like.

When they looked at a subset of models that matched well to temperature trends in the Pacific Ocean, they found that a natural 5-year-long hiatus could occur up to 30% of the time. There was about a 10% chance of a 10-year-long warming pause. And at 20 years, the chances were about 1%.

Roberts told Quartz that this all suggests our current warming pause is unique, but, despite the low probability, it is also “very possible” that the pause could continue a few more years. And that wouldn’t be inconsistent with what we know about the effects of the heat-trapping ocean oscillations at work in the Science study.

 The idea that the oceans are storing the heat that we should be feeling isn’t new. Our ability to measure that drowned heat has gotten better of the past 15 years, thanks to an ever-expanding, semi-autonomous armada of diving buoys.

Through that army, scientists have been honing in on the mystery of the hiatus by searching for the specific ways (and locations where) heat is entering the oceans. It turns out the Pacific Ocean is playing a big role where winds are helping churn the waters and suck in heat.

But sinking heat is just one side of a seesaw.

Michael E. Mann, a co-author on the Science paper, told Quartz in an email,“the Pacific Ocean has been in a natural ‘cooling’ mode, which has slowed the warming of the globe, but we expect that to reverse in the near future.”

Some even say that 2014, the hottest year on record, already marked the end of the hiatus. But Roberts of the Met Office advised caution before calling it officially off. “I would argue that we need a run of several unusually warm years to be able to definitively identify the end,” he said.

 All of the researchers who spoke to Quartz about the two studies agreed that the warming pause was just that.

“Eventually we expect temperatures to ‘catch up,’ but it may take longer than five years for that to happen,” Roberts told Quartz.


This article was published in QUARTZ on February 27, 2015

WRITTEN BY Jeffery DelViscio

Follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffDelViscio. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

The 2040 Imperative




The mathematics of the climate crisis is easy to understand once you have the key numbers. And those numbers lead to some clear and compelling conclusions.

Following the well-known laws of physics, carbon dioxide traps and preserves heat in the atmosphere. Without it, we’d be frozen space-bunnies without a gram of civilization to rub between us.

At 280 parts of CO2 per million, it’s a bit hot in the tropics, a bit cold in the Arctic, but overall, as Goldilocks might say, it’s just right. Every spring, when the forests in Earth’s north breathe in CO2, the atmospheric CO2 dips. Every fall, when they release their leaves, it rises. As Joni Mitchell might put it:

The carbon cycles go round and round,

The CO2 goes up and down,

We’re captive on a carousel of time.

The Immense Power of Ancient Fossil Fuels

But starting in the 1760s, when we began to burn the immense power of ancient fossil fuels that date from long before the age of the dinosaurs, the carbon carousel began to get a bit crazy. The yearly variation remains the same, but every year the CO2 rises because of all the ancient carbon we are adding, every molecule of which traps additional heat.

We can’t return, we can only look behind

From where we came,

And go up and up and up

In the climate game.

Before the industrial age, Earth’s atmosphere contained 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2). Since then we have pushed the CO2 up to 400 parts per million. So what’s the limit? How much more can we add before the temperature rises beyond the climate danger threshold?[1]

In a major paper published in December 2013 the top NASA climate scientist James Hansen and his team of researchers concluded that 2°C is “far into the dangerous range,” and if the current rate of emissions continues much longer, “it will become exceedingly difficult to keep the warming below a target smaller than 2°C.” [2]

In reality, we have already passed various dangerous tipping points, and 2°C is the boundary between ‘dangerous’ and ‘very dangerous.’ Hansen has warned us that adopting a goal of limiting CO2 emissions to 450 parts per million and hoping to limit the warming to 2°C is a “prescription for disaster,” due to additional tipping points that will be crossed on the way to 2°C. [3]

In a parallel universe of some kind we would have begun far earlier, and we would not be where we are today. Here is where we are, however. So is there a way to minimize the danger?


In 2009, a team of climate scientists from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research in Germany led by Malte Meinshausen ran a complex set of climate calculations, which they published in Nature under the title Greenhouse-gas emissions targets for limiting global warming to 2°C. [4]

Before I lay out their numbers, let me pose this question: If the pilot of a plane that you and your family were about to board told you there was a 25% chance that the plane would crash, would you still board?

Most of us don’t need long to answer that one, yet those are the stakes we are playing with, for both our civilization and the integrity of nature.


In their paper, Meinshausen’s team calculated that over the period 2000 to 2050 releasing an additional 1,000 Gt of carbon dioxide will bring a 25% chance that we’ll crash through the 2°C barrier. That’s like Russian Roulette, but with (almost) two bullets in the chambers, not one.

Note to brain: One megatonne (Mt) is a million tonnes. One gigatonne (Gt) is a billion tonnes. 1,000 Gt is a trillion tonnes.

If you fancy yourself as a scarily bad-assed extreme climate danger freak, increasing the total to 1,440 Gt lifts the chance of failure to 50%. That’s Russian Roulette with three bullets, three empty chambers.

These numbers are for the period 2000 to 2050, and now it’s 2015. Since 2000, globally, we have released a further 507 Gt of CO2, and the rate of emissions is going up, not down, in spite of the encouraging acceleration of renewable energy. In 1975 the world was releasing 17 Gt of CO2 a year. Today, it’s releasing 40 Gt per year.

These numbers are for carbon pollution only. The other greenhouse gases also need to be reduced, but I’ll postpone discussion of them to Part 2, which will be published in a couple of weeks.


Subtract the 507 Gt we have already released since 2000 from 1,000 Gt and we’re left with 493 Gt of CO2 that can be emitted globally while still keeping a 25% chance of staying below a 2 degrees increase. Divide that by 40 Gt a year, our current annual rate emissions, and in twelve years it’s all gone. If we’re willing to risk a “50% chance of failure” the budget is larger, but it’s still exhausted by 2037.

The corporations and countries that own the rights to extract and sell the fossil fuels, meanwhile, are planning to burn six times more than the 25% failure scenario, all with a straight face designed for their investors.

In January 2015, Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins published a paper in Nature which gained a lot of media attention titled The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2°C. They too concluded that most fossil fuels will need to remain in the ground, including 82% of the world’s coal, 88% of the unconventional fracked gas, and virtually all of Canada’s oil sands. [5]


If the 2015 global carbon budget in the “25% chance of failure” scenario is 493 Gt, how much of that share is Canada’s?

If the global budget is shared by population, Canada’s share is 0.5%, or 2.4 Gt, or 2,400 million tonnes.[6] Since Canada’s annual CO2 emissions are 500 megatonnes, at the current rate that budget would be exhausted in five years. To remain within the budget we would need to reduce our emissions by 20% this year and by the same amount for each of the next five years. I’ve not met anyone, however far out, who believes this to be possible.

If the budget is shared by current emissions, Canada’s 500 Mt is 1.25% of the global annual 40,000 Mt a year. As a share of the global budget that comes to just over 6Gt or 6,000 Mt, and if we continue our current very low speed of reduction it will be exhausted by 2028.

So here’s the thing. We have a federal election coming up, and many people see it as critical that the climate crisis become an election issue. The only policy being discussed much, however, is putting a price on carbon, whether through a straight carbon tax (as in British Columbia and several countries) a system of cap and trade, which the NDP (“a revenue-generating carbon market”) supports, or a carbon fee and dividend, which The Green Party favours.

Without the discipline of the global carbon budget, however, it’s all rather vague. It’s like setting out to get somewhere without a map, and without knowing where you’re going. BC’s carbon tax reduced per capita consumption of fuel by 19% over four years and greenhouse gases from fuel by 9% without any economic adversity, so putting a price on carbon is clearly good policy, but it’s not sufficient. [7]

The carbon numbers bring discipline to climate policy-making. They tell us in no uncertain terms that if we adopt the ‘share of current emissions’ budget, Canada has just six gigatonnes of future emissions to play with, and then it’s bedtime: zero.

When you compare the current policies, with their rather vague future goals and their rather vague promises of carbon-pricing, it’s the difference between a parent saying “Please be nice and go to bed sometime soon,” and saying “If you are not in bed within twenty minutes you’ll be cleaning the toilet every day for next 30 days,” and meaning it.


With Canada’s carbon budget in hand, an immediately obvious question follows: “What is the optimum rate of reduction that will allow Canada to achieve a smooth transition to zero, while remaining within the allotted budget?”

Canada’s emissions reduction has averaged 7 Mt a year since emissions peaked in 2005, falling to 3.5 Mt a year over the last five years. If we continue to reduce by only 5 Mt a year we will burn through the entire budget by 2028 while only achieving a 13% reduction in annual emissions, compared to 2015.

At this rate, it will take Canada a hundred years to get to zero, while using use four times the allotted budget. This snail-like pace might suit Canada’s fossil fuel industry, but if the rest of the world acts in the same slow way it will bring disaster to all of us.

So if 5 Mt a year is not enough, what’s the right number? The table shows that 10 Mt a year is not enough; 15 Mt a year is not enough; and 20 Mt a year blows through the budget by 2041 without reaching zero, and they all require starting this year, which is clearly not happening. Only reducing by 25 Mt a year or more is effective, achieving a 100% transition to renewable energy while remaining within the budget.

When it comes to the UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015, reducing by 25 Mt a year would allow Canada to table a goal of a 25% reduction in current emissions by 2020 (27% below 1990), assuming a similar planned reduction of the other greenhouse gases. This compares to the European Union’s commitment of 20% below 1990. Zero by 2040 is close to Denmark’s goal of zero by 2050. [8]

Zero by 2040 is also close to the recent call by leaders of The B Team, who run some of the world’s largest companies, who are urging a global goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. [9]


When it comes to policy we can now get specific, and turn the 2040 Imperative into a roadmap.

For transportation, it requires an organized plan to shift all modes of transport to 100% renewable energy by 2040. This would drive municipal and regional goals for increased walking, cycling, carsharing, transit and rail. It would set provincial and national goals for EV uptake, require the electrification of all of Canada’s railways, and require the transformation of long-distance freight. For details, both for transportation and for other sectors mentioned below, see Part Two in two weeks.

For buildings, it requires zero emissions from all new buildings, which could start by 2020, allowing five years for the industry to learn zero-carbon building techniques, and it requires zero emissions from existing buildings by 2040 through a nationwide program to retrofit every building for greater energy saving and renewable energy for heat.

For electricity, it requires a federal Clean Energy Plan that would help the provinces to close down all coal and gas-fired power plants by 2040 and ramp up conservation, renewables and power storage to take their place, including geothermal for base-load power.

For industry, it requires a major drive to help companies improve their energy efficiency, and replace the use of coal and gas with biomass or hydrogen.

For Alberta’s oil sands, it requires factoring zero by 2040 into all National Energy Board decisions, freezing production at the current level (helped by the current low price of oil), denying licenses for all new pipelines, closing down the last operation by 2040, and firming up the financial and legal requirements for boreal forest restoration.

For the economy as a whole, it requires (among many things) eliminating all subsidies and tax breaks that support fossil fuels, shifting them to clean energy, and doing everything necessary to accelerate the increase in solar, wind, geothermal and other renewables that will be needed to replace fossil fuels by 2040.


All of the above could be announced as noble intentions, with targets and goals. The way to make it real, however, so that the 25 Mt a year reduction actually happens, is for a government agency to hold an annual auction in which any company wishing to import or extract a fossil fuel must bid to buy a permit for a share of a fossil fuel market that is now shrinking by 25 Mt a year, in defiance of whatever the market wants.

The auction would put a price on carbon. That, in turn, would create a need to protect low-income people against fuel poverty, either by distributing rebate cheques or by establishing a system of carbon rationing to ensure that the steadily falling availability of fossil fuels for heat and fuel is shared out equitably. More on this in Part Two, in two weeks.

Many economists would view such a rapid annual reduction as a recipe for economic disaster, arguing that it would cause economic growth to grind to a halt. By arguing thus, they and all others who argue for a slow and cautious approach to the climate crisis are saying in effect that the risk of economic stress for this generation is more important than the risk of civilizational collapse and the disruption of nature for the next generation.

Fortunately, most economic models don’t take account of planned non-market changes or rapid technological transition. The same warnings against rapid action might have been issued in the 1880s in response to the horse manure crisis, which created a huge public health hazard on the streets of Europe’s cities—a crisis that would be solved by a technological game-changer with the advent of streetcars and motorcars.

Smart governments will plan for the transition, just as they planned for railways in the 19th century, war in 1914 and 1939, highways and automobiles in the 1950s, and oil and gas extraction in the 1970s and onwards. The solar age is coming, and they will organize to make it happen.

Jobs will be lost, just as they were lost in the horse economy a hundred years ago, but new jobs can be created by applying entrepreneurial skill to research and development, innovation, business start-up support, cooperative economic development and a host of other initiatives, encouraged by financial and economic initiatives such as public banking, basic income, work-sharing, employee share ownership, profit-sharing, tax reform, a financial transactions tax, and the closure of the world’s tax havens.

There are many factors that indicate that a zero carbon economy powered by 100% renewable energy would be stronger and more resilient than an economy that depends on oil and gas. Homes that need 90% less heat will have lower fuel bills; electric cars will cost far less to run; cities with good cycling, transit and carsharing will make it easy for people not to own a car. Tackling the climate crisis will be far cheaper than not tackling it, and many climate solutions will increase available income, strengthening the economy. [10]

Continue reading here.



World must achieve international water goals to preempt looming conflicts born of desperation: UN Report

A new UN report warns that without large new water-related investments many societies worldwide will soon confront rising desperation and conflicts over life’s most essential resource.

Presenting their report at UN Headquarters, New York, officials of UN University and the UN Office for Sustainable Development said unmet water goals threaten many world regions and form a barrier to key universally-shared ambitions including stable political systems, greater wealth and better health for all.

Continued stalling, coupled with population growth, economic instability, disrupted climate patterns and other variables, could reverse hard-earned development gains and preclude meaningful levels of development that can be sustained into the future.

Says lead author Bob Sandford, EPCOR Chair, Canadian Partnership Initiative in support of the UN Water for Life Decade: “The consequence of unmet water goals will be widespread insecurity creating more international tension and conflict. The positive message is that if we can keep moving now on water-related Sustainable Development Goals we can still have the future we want.”

Published in the run-up to the adoption this September of universal post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the report provides an in-depth analysis of 10 countries to show how achieving water and sanitation-related SDGs offers a rapid, cost effective way to achieve sustainable development. 

The countries included in the study cover the full range of economic and development spectrum: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Canada, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia.

Based on the national case studies, the report prescribes country level steps for achieving the global water targets.

Among top recommendations: Hold the agriculture sector (which guzzles roughly 70% of world water supplies), and the energy sector (15%), accountable for making efficiencies while transitioning to clean energy including hydropower.

Prepared in association with the Global Water Partnership and Canada’s McMaster University, the report says the success of global efforts on the scale required rests in large part on a crackdown on widespread corruption in the water sector, particularly in developing countries.

“In many places … corruption is resulting in the hemorrhaging of precious financial resources,” siphoning an estimated 30% of funds earmarked for water and sanitation-related improvements.

The report underscores the need for clearly defined anti-corruption protocols enforced with harsh penalties.

Given accelerating Earth system changes and the growing threat of hydro-climatic disruption, corruption undermining water-related improvements threatens the stability and very existence of some nation states, which in turn affects all other countries, the report says.

“Corruption at any level is not just a criminal act in its own right. In the context of sustainable development it could be viewed as a crime against all of humanity.”

The report notes that the world’s water and wastewater infrastructure maintenance and replacement deficit is building at a rate of $200 million per year, with $1 trillion now required in the USA alone.

To finance its recommendations, the report says that, in addition to plugging the leakage of funds to corruption, $1.9 trillion in subsidies to petroleum, coal and gas industries should be redirected by degrees.

The estimated global cost to achieve post-2015 sustainable development goals in water and sanitation development, maintenance and replacement is US $1.25 trillion to $2.25 trillion per year for 20 years, a doubling or tripling of current spending translating into 1.8 to 2.5 percent of global GDP.

The resulting benefits would be commensurately large, however – a minimum of $3.11 trillion per year, not counting health care savings and valuable ecosystem service enhancements.

Changes in fundamental hydrology “likely to cause new kinds of conflict”

Sandford and co-lead author Corinne J. Schuster-Wallace of UNU-INWEH underline that all current water management challenges will be compounded one way or another by climate change, and by increasingly unpredictable weather.

“Historical predictability, known as relative hydrological stationarity … provides the certainty needed to build houses to withstand winds of a certain speed, snow of a certain weight, and rainfalls of certain intensity and duration, when to plant crops, and to what size to build storm sewers. The consequence is that the management of water in all its forms in the future will involve a great deal more uncertainty than it has in the past.”

“In a more or less stable hydro-climatic regime you are playing poker with a deck you know and can bet on risk accordingly. The loss of stationarity is playing poker with a deck in which new cards you have never seen before keep appearing more and more often, ultimately disrupting your hand to such an extent that the game no longer has coherence or meaning.”

“People do not have the luxury of living without water and when faced with a life or death decision, people tend to do whatever they must to survive … Changes in fundamental hydrology are likely to cause new kinds of conflict, and it can be expected that both water scarcity and flooding will become major trans-boundary water issues.”

Within 10 years, researchers predict 48 countries – 25% of all nations on Earth with an expected combined population of 2.9 billion – will be classified “water-scarce” (1,000 to 1,700 cubic meters of water per capita per year) or “water-stressed” (1,000 cubic meters or less).

And by 2030, expect overall global demand for freshwater to exceed supply by 40%, with the most acute problems in warmer, low-resource nations with young, fast-growing populations, according to the report.

An estimated 25% of the world’s major river basins run dry for part of each year, the report notes, and “new conflicts are likely to emerge as more of the world’s rivers become further heavily abstracted so that they no longer make it to the sea.”

Meanwhile, the magnitude of floods in Pakistan and Australia in 2010, and on the Great Plains of North America in 2011 and 2014, “suggests that the destruction of upstream flood protection and the failure to provide adequate downstream flood warning will enter into global conflict formulae in the future.”

The report cites the rising cost of world flood-related damages: US$53 billion in 2013 and more than US$312 billion since 2004.

Included in the global flood figures: roughly $1 billion in flood damage in the Canadian province of Manitoba in both 2011 and 2014. The disasters have affected the province’s economic and political stability, contributing to a budget deficit, an unpopular increase in the provincial sales tax and to the consequent resignation of political leaders.

UNU-INWEH Director Zafar Adeel and Jong Soo Yoon, Head of the UN Office for Sustainable Development, state: “Through a series of country case studies, expert opinion, and evidence synthesis, the report explores the critical role that water plays (including sanitation and wastewater management) in sustainable development; current disconnects between some national development plans and the proposed SDGs; opportunities for achieving sustainable development through careful water management; and implementation opportunities.”

The report, they add, “fills a critical gap in understanding the complexities associated with  resources and their management, and also provides substantive options that enable us to move forward within the global dialogue.”

More information: The report in full is available from Feb. 24 at inweh.unu.edu

Provided by UN University INWEH


Public Event: Towards Regional Resilience in the Pacific Northwest

On behalf of the Crisis Resilience Alliance in collaboration with the School of Community and Regional Planning, UBC, the Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC and the Canadian Risks and Hazards Network Young Professionals Committee, we are delighted to invite you to our next public event at UBC. Jason Biermann, who co-managed the Oso landslide (what has become to be known as “the smallest biggest disaster”) is one of the speakers along with a number of experts in the Pacific Northwest region.

Towards Regional Resilience in the Pacific Northwest

February 27, 2015 1:30 PM (Liu Institute, Multi-purpose room)

This panel will explore the climate and natural hazard-related interdependencies of our Cascadia bioregion and investigate the question of whether the regional level is the ultimate scale for planning resilience.

The Pacific Northwest is a unique region in which climate change is expected to exacerbate many of the natural hazard risks irrespective of political and international boundaries. This panel will explore the climate and natural hazard-related interdependencies of our Cascadia bioregion and investigate the question of whether the regional level is the ultimate scale for planning resilience. Perspectives will be gained from a diverse array of panelists from BC and Washington representing the public, private, non-profit, and industry sectors.


Jason Biermann, Deputy Director, Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, Washington 
Steven Whitney, Senior Program Officer, The Bullitt Foundation, Seattle, Washington 
Jeff Hortobagyi, Corporate Business Continuity Office, TELUS Communications

Moura Quayle, Director, Liu Institute for Global Issues; Professor, Strategic Design, University of British Columbia


John Oakley, Resilience strategist, Translink; Former Senior Regional Manager, Southwest Region, Emergency Management British Columbia


1:30pm – 2:45pm Panel Discussion
2:45pm – 3:30pm Group Discussion and a Networking Opportunity over coffee

Register as part of the 7th Annual SCARP Symposium: Contours and Coastlines: [De] Constructing the Pacific Northwest:


Register for this event only: RSVP to

More information: http://www.crisisresilience.ca/2015/02/09/towards-regional-resilience-in-the-pacific-northwest/

Additionally, we would like to convey information from Resilience Canada 2015 which will take place on April 27th and 28th at the Hyatt Regency in Calgary, and “will bring together experts, local government leaders and managers with expertise in the areas of urban management, business continuity and resilience. Attendees will hear from renowned experts on business resilience and emergency management, including:

  • Tom Sampson, Deputy Chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, who will be co-chairing the event.
  • Francis Bradley, Vice-President, Policy Development at the Canadian Electricity Association
  • David Kaufman, Associate Administrator, Policy, Program Analysis and International Affairs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Ivan M. Kusal, Director, Corporate Business Continuity and Property Risk Governance with TELUS Communications Inc.

To view the preliminary agenda online, click here.”

The Crisis Resilience Alliance was offered a discounted registration with a $400 savings that we are able to extend to all of our members and affiliates. If interested please email us at info@crisisresilience.ca and we will provide the information on how to register at a discounted price.


A Workshop on Planning and Integrating Urban Biodiversity

ICLEI Canada, with support from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests, is hosting a one-day workshop to preview and test ICLEI’s soon to be released Urban Biodiversity Planning Guidebook.  The Guidebook will give municipalities the knowledge, strategies and direction to develop a community specific biodiversity action plan.  Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to try out the guidebook and exercises through hands-on training and facilitated group discussions.This workshop will offer an opportunity to share your experiences in addressing and integrating biodiversity management into your work, and identify capacity gaps and opportunities you’ve encountered along the way.

Location: Metro Hall, 55 John Street, Toronto, ON M5V3C6
Date: Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Time: 8:30am – 4:30pm EDT (light breakfast and registration at 8:30am)
Cost: $80.00 + Processing fees and HST

Registration deadline: March 13, 2015 [Click here to Register]

Preliminary Agenda
Morning Session:  Planning and Assessing Biodiversity

In the morning session participants will complete activities from the initial milestones of the Guidebook.  The activities are targeted at developing a biodiversity action team, identifying stakeholders and selecting a biodiversity assessment approach; all critical steps to develop the biodiversity action plan.

Afternoon Session:  Integrating and Promoting Biodiversity

In the afternoon session participants will complete exercises aimed at developing components of a biodiversity action plan and communicating with internal and external stakeholders.Please pass this invitation along to other municipalities you feel would be interested in attending!

If you have any questions, please email Aravind aravind.kundurpi@iclei.org


Climate Change Elevator Pitch: Eric Rignot

Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is one of the globe’s most accomplished glacier experts.
In an interview in San Francicso, we asked him for his “elevator pitch” to explain the science of climate change.


Conference: Human Health in the Face of Climate Change: Science, Medicine, and Adaptation

May 14 – 15, 2015 – CosmoCaixa, Barcelona

There is significant scientific evidence indicating that the global climate is changing, largely due to human activities. Such climatic fluctuations may adversely impact human health and well-being in a variety of ways, including through exposure to extreme weather events; disruption of ecosystems, agriculture, and food production; expansion of infectious diseases; and increased levels of harmful air particulates. New research seeks to provide a deeper understanding of the health consequences of climate change on humans — including better quantification of these effects — to improve health preparedness and protect vulnerable populations.

The New York Academy of Sciences along with the “la Caixa” Foundation and BIOCAT will host a multidisciplinary conference that brings together climate scientists, atmospheric/oceanic scientists, ecologists, evolutionary biologists, epidemiologists, public health specialists, and policy-makers, among others. This 2-day conference will highlight the latest research on climate change and its subsequent effects on human health, including vulnerability due to extreme weather events, land-use change and agricultural production, variable epidemiology of parasites and infectious diseases, and climate-altering pollutants.

Poster Abstract and Fellowship Deadline: March 18, 2015.



Upcoming: The OCCs 3rd Annual Climate Change Research Symposium | May 2015

The Ontario Climate Consortium (OCC) is excited to announce that it will be hosting its 3rd Annual Climate Change Research Symposium at McMaster University on May 11, 2015. The annual symposium brings scholars together with public and private sector representatives to advance climate change research in Ontario. This year’s theme is Ready, Steady, Adapt: Leading Adaptation through Collaboration.

We are looking forward to hosting a three great sessions at the symposium which will cover the following topics: 1) The Business of Climate Resilience and Adaptation; 2) The Synergies of Natural and Social Science: The Adaptation Tag-Team; and, 3) Art, Activism and Climate Change: The Bridge between Science and Society.

We have some fabulous speakers and moderators confirmed for the sessions including:

  • Deborah Harford | Executive Director, Adaptation to Climate Change Team at Simon Fraser University
  • Benjamin Shinewald | President & CEO, Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada (BOMA)
  • Tom Rand | Senior Advisor, Cleantech; Managing Partner, ArcTern Ventures
  • Channa Perera | Director of Sustainable Development, Canadian Electricity Association
  • Adam Auer | Director of Sustainability & Stakeholder Relations, Cement Association of Canada
  • Sarah Burch | Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo
  • Rob Shirkey | Director, Our Horizon Project
  • Joan Sullivan | Photographer
  • Kelly Drennan | Executive Director, Fashion Takes Action
  • Blair Feltmate | Associate Professor, Program Director Sustainability Practice; Chair Climate Change Adaptation Project Canada
  • Linda Hawkins | Director, Institute for Community Engaged Scholarship at the University of Guelph

More information about the program and registration details are available here.


New Project Underway: Research and Information Gathering on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation


The OCC and its partners are working to deliver analysis and recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on land-use planning and climate change as a part of the 2015 coordinated review of the Provincial Growth Plan, Niagara Escarpment Plan, Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, and Greenbelt Plan.

The recommendations provided will be based on a review of academic and grey literature, as well as a review of provincial and municipal policies in comparison with a set of international jurisdictions exhibiting best practice in the area of land-use planning and climate change. The project is set to wrap up in May 2015 and a status update will be available accordingly.

The project team is being guided by a group of expert advisors that include:


New Project Underway: The Identification and Validation of Extreme Weather Indicators for Agricultural Production and Rural Resilience in Ontario


Over the last few months, the OCC has been working with its partners to produce spatially-distributed climatological indicators that represent extreme weather impacts associated with climate change, specificially in the context of agricultural production and rural resilience. The project aims to produce information on the limitations and applicability of different future climate datasets for agricultural adaptation decision making and modeling.

This is a collaborative project with funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). The analysis for this project is being led by Drs. Ziwang Deng and Huaiping Zhu from York University. The project advisory committee includes representatives from the following organizations in addition to some agricultural producers:OMAFRANRCanCarleton UniversityAAFC.

More information about this project is available here.

Contact Us Anytime!

There are numerous ways to stay in touch with the OCC. You can reach us on Twitter or LinkedIn or via emailSubscribe to our newsletter and be the first to receive news on upcoming funding opportunities, events and new projects.

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